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Music / The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

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"We've got to get in to get out."

"Something inside me has just begun
Lord knows what I have done
And the lamb... lies down... on Broadway!"

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is the sixth studio album by English Progressive Rock band Genesis, released on 22 November 1974 through Charisma Records in the United Kingdom and Atco Records in the United States, marking their first release on the latter label (having previously had Charisma distribute their material since Nursery Cryme in both the UK and the US).

After the commercial and critical success of Selling England by the Pound and its accompanying tour in Europe and North America, the band booked a three-month retreat in Headley Grange. Although it was a tough ordeal, not helped by the decrepit condition the workhouse was left in at the time and Peter Gabriel's estrangement with the band through his then-wife Jill going through a difficult pregnancy at the time, they decided on a double-album that would tell a concept storynote .

Gabriel, wishing to move the band away from their preestablished pastoral image, pitched a plot about Rael, a young half-Puerto Rican street kid from New York City who embarks on a surreal journey of self-discovery through a dream world. Concurrently, the music was made more aggressive, more surreal, and more improvisational, being pieced together from group jam sessions. It was after the allocated time in Headley Grange that they mixed and recorded the album in Wales, and Gabriel enlisted the assistance of Brian Eno for two of the tracks by way of synthesized vocal treatments.

Around release of the album, Genesis played on a supporting tour in North America and Europe, playing the entire album and only doing a couple old material songs as an encore. It wasn't all rosy however, since the equipment and effects had been faulty from time to time, including the infamous Slipperman costume where Peter Gabriel found it hard to breathe or insert the microphone. Also, he informed the rest of the band that he was planning to leave at the conclusion of the tournote , which was 22 May 1975 in Besançon, France. The departure led to a drive to get a new frontman, with Phil Collins happy to just have the group be an instrumental band before being persuaded to take the reins for A Trick of the Tail. Gabriel himself would reemerge a couple years later, starting his solo career with his first self-titled album before diving further into the abstract aggression that he began exploring here.

There's an entire book that contains various interpretations of the story, as well as an illustrated adaptation on YouTube.

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was supported by two singles: "Counting Out Time" and "Carpet Crawlers" (retitled "The Carpet Crawlers").


Disc One

Side One
  1. "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" (4:55)
  2. "Fly on a Windshield" (2:47)
  3. "Broadway Melody of 1974" (1:58)
  4. "Cuckoo Cocoon" (2:14)
  5. "In the Cage" (8:15)
  6. "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging" (2:45)

Side Two

  1. "Back in N.Y.C." (5:49)
  2. "Hairless Heart" (2:25)
  3. "Counting Out Time" (3:45)
  4. "Carpet Crawlers" (5:16)
  5. "The Chamber of 32 Doors" (5:40)

Disc Two

Side Three
  1. "Lilywhite Lilith" (2:40)
  2. "The Waiting Room" (5:28)
  3. "Anyway" (3:18)
  4. "Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist" (2:50)
  5. "The Lamia" (6:57)
  6. "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats" (3:06)

Side Four

  1. "The Colony of Slippermen" (8:14)
    1. a) "The Arrival"
    2. b) "A Visit to The Doktor"
    3. c) "Raven"
  2. "Ravine" (2:05)
  3. "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" (3:32)
  4. "Riding the Scree" (3:56)
  5. "In the Rapids" (2:24)
  6. "it." (4:58)

Principal Members:

It's the grand parade of lifeless troping, all ready to use:

  • Advancing Wall of Doom: A literal wall which descends on Times Square and begins moving toward Rael.
    There's something solid forming in the air
    The wall of death is lowered in Times Square
  • Aerith and Bob: Rael and his brother John.
  • Alliterative Title: Four of the album's song titles indulge in this. In order, we have "Cuckoo Cocoon", "Hairless Heart", "Carpet Crawlers", and "Lilywhite Lilith".
  • all lowercase letters: "it." is officially written this way, being italicized for good measure.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Because Peter Gabriel felt that the music alone wasn't enough to convey the story, he wrote a detailed summary of the album's plot that appears at the end of the liner notes, clarifying details that were left ambiguous in the songs (such as what the titular lamb represents — as it turns out, it means nothing at all).
    • An In-Universe case appears in "Counting Out Time", where Rael gets all his information on foreplay from a book about erogenous zones.
  • Alternate Album Cover: The UK double-cassette release features the image of a brick corridor for the first tape and the portrait of a mouthless Rael for the second, both taken from the rear cover of the LP release. The French, Spanish, and Italian double-cassette releases, meanwhile, feature the same cover for both tapes, depicting all six photos from the front and back LP cover, with the observing Rael superimposed over the results. Later single-cassette releases use the brick corridor only.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Rael had previously been incarcerated at "Twenty-Second Street". There is no mental hospital or jail at that location, nor was there ever one there; it only makes sense if he is referring to an altercation with the police that had occurred there.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The fate of John/Rael at the end.
  • Beneath the Earth: A large part of the plot takes place here.
  • Bitter Almonds: From "Broadway Melody of 1974":
    The cheerleader waves her cyanide wand
    There's a smell of peach blossom and bitter almond
  • Body Horror: The Slippermen. The infamous costume Peter Gabriel wore in concerts was made to resemble a grotesque walking STD with huge swellings.
    "His skin's all covered in slimy lumps
    With lips that slide across each chin
    His twisted limbs like rubber stumps
    Are waved in welcome, say 'Please join in'"
  • Boléro Effect: "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging" makes use of this, starting with simple synthesizer chords with Peter Gabriel's vocals, then gradually layering in additional instrumental tracks and some additional vocal treatments courtesy of Brian Eno.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the synopsis of the album included in the liner notes, the narrator tells readers to "Keep your fingers out of my eye." It's likely that anyone holding the LP gatefold has their fingers on the mouthless portrait of Rael on the back cover.
  • Breather Episode: "Hairless Heart" and "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats", two tranquil instrumentals tucked in the middle of an unusually aggressive album by Genesis' standards.
  • Brownface: On stage, Gabriel was heavily made up to perform Rael.
  • But I Read a Book About It: In "Counting Out Time", Rael thinks he's really good at sex just because he read a book about erogenous zones. Emphasis on "thinks".
  • Concept Album: A Rock Opera about a half-Puerto Rican teen's surreal Down the Rabbit Hole adventure (which may or may not be a metaphor for dissociative identity disorder, depending on which Genesis member you ask), learning to become In Touch with His Feminine Side along the way.
  • Darker and Edgier: The musical, lyrical and conceptual tone of the work was deliberately meant to be this trope, as compared to the very pastoral, English, whimsical (if often very ironic) sounds and styles they were known for prior to the work. They always had dabbled in dark (or dark-humoured) themes and harder-rocking sounds, but The Lamb was a full change of pace from, say, "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)".
  • Dark Reprise: "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" is a twisted reprise of the theme from the first song, mixed with part of the melody from "The Lamia". In the context of the story, whereas the Title Track sets up Rael's regular life in New York City, "The Light Lies Down on Broadway" depicts a late-story Red Pill, Blue Pill moment for Rael, who at the moment can either return home or continue his journey.
  • Digital Destruction: Due to an indexing error, almost all CD releases prior to the 2007 remaster sequence most of "Broadway Melody of 1974" as part of "Fly on a Windshield", save for the 33-second instrumental outro. Only two pre-2007 CDs properly preserve the intended starting point of the song: one American, one Canadian.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The album artwork, apart from the logo, is in black and white.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: Rael is chased by a "wall of death" that drops into Times Square. As the wall passes over him, he blacks out, and later re-awakens in a surreal world beneath New York City.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The album ends with the reveal that Rael and John are the same person before they and everything around them dissolve into purple haze, drastically re-contextualizing much of Rael's adventure throughout the album and posing the question of how much of the story is meant to be taken literally.
  • Explosive Decompression: "Anyway":
    I could have been exploded in space
    Different orbits for my bones
  • Gainax Ending: "it." doesn't seem to be about anything clearly related to the story, but the end of the story in the liner notes is pure crazy. Rael saves his brother John's life only to discover that he and John are actually the same person, they have an out-of-both-bodies experience, they are "outlined in yellow," and they and the scenery melt into purple haze. Figure that one out.
    • One YouTube comment remarks the ending is about "having to destroy yourself in order to find a new [self]note  and the joy that radiates afterwardnote . Almost like the Phoenix rising out of ashes".
  • Get Out!: Punctuates the first verse of the Title Track:
    The Movie Palace is now undone,
    The all-night watchmen have had their fun.
    Sleeping cheaply on the midnight show,
    It's the same old ending. Time to go—
    Get out!
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • "Broadway Melody of 1974" depicts the Ku Klux Klan "[serving] hot soul food" and playing jazz standards, deriving dark humor from the image of one of the most infamous white supremacist organizations in the world freely indulging in Black culture.
    • "Back in N.Y.C." features Rael proudly proclaiming that there's "no time for romantic escape when your fluffy heart is ready for rape." This braggadocios and misogynistic self-image is contrasted with the portrayal of his one and only sexual encounter before the album's main plot in "Counting Out Time" just two songs later. Not only is it implied to be consensual (thus instantly demolishing the idea of him being a "tough" rapist with no desire for romance), but Rael is also utterly clueless about sex.
  • IKEA Erotica: Played for laughs on "Counting Out Time", where Rael attempts to have sex with a girl based entirely on a book he read about erogenous zones, with the lyrics describing his routine in a comedically clinical manner.
  • Instrumentals: "Hairless Heart", "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats", "Ravine". "Broadway Melody of 1974" isn't supposed to be, but thanks to an indexing error on most CD versions of the album, it often is. (It's intended to start with the line "Echoes of the Broadway Everglades", which is indexed on most CD versions as part of "Fly on a Windshield").
  • Intercourse with You: "Counting Out Time", a flashback to Rael's one attempt at bedding a woman before the events of the album; it goes comedically awry when he thinks that he can become a sex god just by reading a book that he recently bought.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: According to Peter Gabriel, a major element of the album's plot is Rael learning to embrace this trope, having previously spent his life attempting to project a hypermasculine image of himself.
  • Latino Is Brown: Rael, a Puerto Rican street punk, mentions his "chocolate fingers" in "The Lamia" and was portrayed in the album's supporting tour by Peter Gabriel in brownface.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Broadway Melody of 1974" is supposed to start with the line "Echoes of the Broadway Everglades", although thanks to an indexing error on most CD versions of the album, it often doesn't. It's debatable whether this is a straight example of this trope due to Siamese Twin Songs.
  • Meaningful Echo: Several musical cues reappear throughout the album.
    • The melody from the bridge of "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" is reused as the intro of "Carpet Crawlers".
    • The beginning of "Back in N.Y.C." borrows from the beginning of "In The Cage".
    • The riff from "Broadway Melody of 1974" reappears without warning in "Lilywhite Lilith".
    • "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" begins with motifs from "The Lamia" and turns into a full-blown Dark Reprise of the title track.
  • Mind Screw: The main character's emasculation is a major plot point. Also, pretty much everything else.
  • Mind Screwdriver: the story that Gabriel wrote for the liner notes. It still doesn't explain everything, though. For that, this site might help... probably.
  • Mythology Gag: The first verse of "In the Cage" features the lines "White liquids turn sour within/Turn fast, turn sour, turn sweat, turn sour," nodding back to "When the Sour Turns to Sweet" from Genesis' first album.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Back in NYC".
    You say I must be crazy, 'cause I don't care who I hit, who I hit
    But I know it's me that's hitting out and I'm, I'm not full of shit
  • One-Word Title: "Anyway", "Ravine", "it.".
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "I'M RAAAAAEL!!!!"
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: "Back in N.Y.C." sees Rael attempt to exploit this trope by boasting about how his "fluffy heart is ready for rape" as part of the edgelord persona that he adopts on the streets of New York. Two songs later, however, it turns out that he's just talking out of his ass.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • "Carpet Crawlers" was rerecorded in 1995 and released on the 1999 Greatest Hits Album Turn It On Again: The Hits, where it was appropriately titled "The Carpet Crawlers 1999". This new version is notable for being both Genesis' final single (despite being recorded before their last album) and the last time to date that all five members who worked on this album (Gabriel, Hackett, Rutherford, Banks, and Collins) performed together.
    • "Fly on a Windshield"/"Broadway Melody of 1974" was performed as an instrumental piece in their 1976 tour, as well as the Genesis in Concert 1976 concert film.
  • Re-Cut:
    • While UK 8-track releases preserve the LP running order, a rarity for the format, "Broadway Melody of 1974", "Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist", and "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" are each split into two parts due to them overlapping with the changeover from one program to the next.
    • The US 8-track release swaps most of sides 2 and 3 to account for the limitations of the four-program configuration. Additionally, "Lilywhite Lilith" and "The Colony of Slippermen" are split into two parts due to them overlapping with the between-program changeover.
    • Single-cassette editions of the album move "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats" to track 11. While such reshuffling is normally to even out the lengths of each side, this change actually results in side 2 being considerably shorter than side 1, with the liner notes including a disclaimer that "there is an extended run off on Side 2."
  • Red Pill, Blue Pill: An unusually late instance happens in "The Light Lies Down on Broadway", where Rael sees an opportunity to return home and resume his earlier normal life. The song's lyrics show him caught between that and continuing his surreal journey, ultimately choosing the latter after finding John in danger.
  • Rock Opera: One of the most famous.
  • Sex Changes Everything: The Slippermen are an extremely literal example of this trope, being transformed into hideous wet lumps of flesh after having sex with the Lamia.
  • Shirtless Scene: Peter Gabriel during the The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Siamese Twin Songs: Most of Side 1 (the songs that aren't examples of this generally use Fading into the Next Song instead), the first three songs on Side 2, "Lilywhite Lilith" into "The Waiting Room", "Anyway" into "Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist", "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" into "Riding the Scree", and "In the Rapids" into "it.". (So, roughly half the album, then.)
  • Snakes Are Sexy: The Lamia, that seduce Rael into a rosewater pool. There's even a concert effect where a rotating tent with a snake pattern on it would lower on cue.
  • Special Guest: A newly-solo Brian Eno provides vocal treatments (credited as "Enossification") on both "In the Cage" and "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging"; he also let the band borrow some equipment. In exchange, he asked Phil Collins to play drums on his song "Mother Whale Eyeless" (whose parent album, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), was being recorded in the studio next to where this album was being mixed).
  • Split Personality: Phil Collins described the album as being fundamentally about this trope, exemplified by the myriad of dichotomies in Rael's life (Rael vs. John, masculinity vs. femininity, trust vs. distrust, etc.) and the convergence of them all at the album's end (at the time, merging was the go-to treatment for dissociative identity disorder).
  • Splash of Color: While most of the album packaging is Deliberately Monochrome, the band logo on the front appears in vivid blue and green.
  • Spooky Painting: The Hipgnosis album cover shows a man (presumably Rael) who has jumped out of his painting to look at the other paintings next to him.
  • Starbucks Skin Scale: Rael mentions his "chocolate fingers" in "The Lamia", tying in with the Latino Is Brown stereotype and his depiction as Puerto Rican.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Drummer Phil Collins shares lead vocal duties with Peter Gabriel on "Counting out Time", "Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist" and "The Colony of Slippermen".
  • Switching P.O.V.: The narration in the songs constantly switches back and forth from first person to third person.
  • Take That!: Apparently, on various legs of the tour, Peter Gabriel (jokingly) compared the Slippermen, walking lumps of STD-riddled flesh, to either bassist Mike Rutherford or drummer Phil Collins.
  • Thieving Magpie: A raven plays a pivotal role in the story when it flies off with the yellow tube containing Rael's genitals.
  • Title Track: "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway".
  • Tomato in the Mirror: We discover at the very end that Rael and his brother John whom he's spent the entire album chasing are actually the same person.
    Hang on, John! We're out of this at last
    Something's changed, it's not your face
    It's mine! It's
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Or in this case, Rael and the three Lamia.
  • Wham Line: "Something's changed, it's not your face! It's mine! It's mine!"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The titular lamb only appears in the Title Track, never appearing for the rest of the album (and thus never having its significance overtly explained) despite being its namesake.
  • Wipe That Smile Off Your Face: Rael is shown like this on the back cover.
  • You Are Number 6: In "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging", Rael notices John as part of the assembly line of people, with a serial number "9" stamped on his forehead.

"'Cos it's only knock and know all, but I like it!"